This past weekend my wife and I stayed in downtown Chicago and I found a new coffee and donut shop that I would not have known existed were it not for the indirect advertising of two people walking by holding cups with their logo on it.

Firecakes has an area for customers that can’t be any bigger than 10′ x 15′ space, the whole storefront can’t be much more than 30 feet wide and who-knows-how-far deep, but they offer remarkably good coffee and espresso, fresh-squeezed orange juice (they had one of these on the counter) and a host of old standards combined with some modern twists on flavors and styles.

Two cups walked past me with this and I had to go there and join the movement myself.

Two cups walked past me with this and I had to go there and join the movement myself.

We had no idea they existed.  In fact, after two consecutive mornings of the breakfast buffet in our hotel, we took to the streets to get a bagel from a chain below the hotel named after a Nobel prize winning scientist.  It was okay, reliable, but nothing unique.

There’s nothing wrong with big.  Big delivers a consistent product and experience.

But what about a local company, a specialist, a niche operator; someone who has something to offer that is unique to them and their neighborhood, how are they to compete?

They’ve got to get eyes to see their brand, and then they’ve got to get the feet attached to those eyes to carry them over the threshold.  And that’s how they got me in the door to spend more than ten dollars.  How many times does that happen to them a day?  A week?

When I told the guy behind the counter that seeing their name on coffee clutches being carried past me started that process of discovery, he said that sometimes he’ll walk around the neighborhood with empty boxes that have their logo on it to drive those eyeballs, to generate that foot traffic.

What is your company doing to advertise your brand?  To get those new eyeballs to see you?  There are so many ways that companies can generate a buzz for themselves or get found.

  • Paid search
  • Remarketing on blogs
  • Paid advertising online or in print
  • Sponsorship of conferences, trade shows or seminars
  • Well planned content creation, search engine and website development and optimization
  • Customer evangelization

I’m sure that had I asked the people where Firecakes was and if they liked the product, they would have delivered an even more credible and valued review; the customer testimonial.  And at that point I’d have been willing to walk a mile or two (instead of the really close tenth of a mile away that it was) for that experience.

If you’re your client or agent networks best kept secret, you’re going to run out of places to market and get additional revenue from your current crop of clients.  Put your name out there intelligently, measure, test, analyze and keep adjusting and fine tuning the message until you’re getting the consistent results you want.

Whether your measure is leads in the pipeline, conversions, revenue or a combination of the three, none of that will happen without some initiative on your part to get the word out.



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